Miami Dolphins: Walker's Fab 40

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 1-4

February, 20, 2014
Feb 20
4:00
PM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top 40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at the top players currently for the Dolphins:

No. 4: Brandon Fields

Position: Punter

2013 stats: 48.8 average, 32 kicks inside the 20

Analysis: Could a punter really rank this high? Absolutely. Fields is one of the top punters in the NFL and finally got his first Pro Bowl nod this past season. He is the most consistent Dolphins player at his job, which is good enough for No. 4 in “Walker’s Fab 40.” Fields has been punting at an elite level for the past few years but finally made it to Hawaii after the Dolphins won a few more games and finished 8-8.

No. 3: Mike Pouncey

Position: Center

2013 stats: 14 starts

Analysis: It was a trying year for Pouncey off the field. He was cited in the Ted Wells report as one of three players responsible for harassing teammate Jonathan Martin. On the field, he made his first Pro Bowl at center and was the only stable piece in an otherwise awful offensive line. Expect the Dolphins to make plenty of changes to the guard and tackle positions around Pouncey.

No. 2: Brent Grimes

Position: Cornerback

2013 stats: 60 tackles, four interceptions

Analysis: The Dolphins weren’t sure what they had last season in Grimes. Miami signed Grimes to a one-year contract following a torn Achilles in 2013. However, Grimes showed no effects from his injury and had arguably the best season of his career. He tied for the team lead with four interceptions and made his second Pro Bowl. Grimes is easily Miami’s biggest free agent and will be looking to cash in. The one-year franchise tag also is a possibility.

No. 1: Cameron Wake

Position: Defensive end

2013 stats: 37 tackles, 8.5 sacks

Analysis: Yes, Wake is still the best player the Dolphins have on the roster. He battled through knee injuries and still made the Pro Bowl this past season with 8.5 sacks. When not having double-digit sacks is a down year, that means you’re a really good player. Miami got a nice find in Wake, who is expected to come back with a vengeance in 2014.

Here is a full recap of “Walker’s Fab 40” Dolphins players following the 2013 season:

1. Cameron Wake, DE

2. Brent Grimes, CB

3. Mike Pouncey, C

4. Brandon Fields, P

5. Mike Wallace, WR

6. Olivier Vernon, DE

7. Brian Hartline, WR

8. Ryan Tannehill, QB

9. Charles Clay, TE

10. Paul Soliai, DT

11. Randy Starks, DT

12. Dannell Ellerbe, LB

13. John Denny, LS

14. Jared Odrick, DT

15. Dion Jordan, DE

16. Richie Incognito, G

17. Bryant McKinnie, OT

18. Philip Wheeler, LB

19. Reshad Jones, S

20. Dimitri Patterson, CB

21. Koa Misi, LB

22. Brandon Gibson, WR

23. Chris Clemons, S

24. Dustin Keller, TE

25. Lamar Miller, RB

26. Tyson Clabo, OT

27. Jonathan Martin, OT

28. Rishard Matthews, WR

29. Matt Moore, QB

30. Jimmy Wilson, CB/S

31. John Jerry, G

32. Caleb Sturgis, K

33. Nolan Carroll, CB

34. Daniel Thomas, RB

35. Derrick Shelby, DE

36. Nate Garner, OL

37. Jelani Jenkins, LB

38. Jason Trusnik, LB

39. Don Jones, DB

40. Will Davis, CB

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 5-8

February, 19, 2014
Feb 19
2:00
PM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues its ranking of the top 40 players.

Here are Nos. 5-8:

No. 8: Ryan Tannehill

Position: Quarterback

Tannehill
2013 stats: 3,913 yards, 24 TDs, 17 INTs

Analysis: The jury is still out on Tannehill. But he comes in with a solid ranking at No. 8 on Walker’s Fab. 40. I like many of the tools Tannehill brings to the table. The issue going forward is can he strengthen his weaknesses? Will Tannehill improve his pocket presence? Can he consistently complete the deep ball? Those are the things that will get Tannehill to the next level. For now he’s just 15-17 as a starter.

No. 7: Brian Hartline

Position: wide receiver

Hartline
2013 stats:76 receptions, 1,016 yards, four TDs

Analysis: Hartline is a player you love to have on your team. He doesn’t look for the glory and press clippings. Hartline simply comes to work everyday and consistently does his job. Hartline led the Dolphins in receiving yards and recorded his second straight 1,000-yard season. He’s an ideal No. 2 receiver, and usually does well against No. 2 cornerbacks.

No. 6: Olivier Vernon

Position: Defensive end

Vernon
Vernon
2013 stats: 57 tackles, 11.5 sacks

Analysis: Vernon came out of nowhere in 2013. He was expected to relinquish his starting job to rookie No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan. But Vernon kept piling up the numbers, stayed in the starting lineup, and led the Dolphins with 11.5 sacks. He was the team’s most consistent pass-rusher last season. He also improved at sealing the edge against the run, but he’s still a work in progress in that regard.

No. 5: Mike Wallace

Position: Wide receiver

Wallace
Wallace
2013 stats:73 receptions, 930 yards, five TDs

Analysis: Wallace was Miami’s biggest free-agent signing in 2013. He got off to a slow start, but still finished with solid numbers. Wallace is lightning fast, but the Dolphins failed to use his speed effectively. Tannehill struggled with the deep ball and missed Wallace on several opportunities that could have changed games. Wallace will have another offseason to work with Tannehill and get on the same page. The pair could be dangerous in 2014 if that happens.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 9-12

February, 14, 2014
Feb 14
1:30
PM ET
We continue our rankings of the top 40 players on the Miami Dolphins.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 9-12.

No. 12: Dannell Ellerbe

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 101 tackles, one sack, two INTs

Analysis: Ellerbe led Miami in tackles. But it was mostly an underwhelming year for the Dolphins’ prized free agent. Ellerbe had a tough transition playing middle linebacker of a 4-3 defense. He didn’t make many big plays and the Dolphins were ranked 24th against the run.

No. 11: Randy Starks

Position: Defensive tackle

2013 stats: 49 tackles, four sacks

Analysis: Starks was part of the three-man rotation at defensive tackle with teammates Paul Soliai and Jared Odrick. Starks made the most splash plays of the three, but the run defense struggled overall. Starks had a good run in Miami and still has something left in the tank. But he will be an unrestricted free agent in March and may not return to Miami.

No. 10: Paul Soliai

Position: Defensive tackle

2013 stats: 34 tackles, one sack

Analysis: Similar to Starks, Soliai is an unrestricted free agent and may not return to Miami. The Dolphins will try to keep one of the two defensive tackles. Soliai is the better run stuffer of the two and is hard to move in the middle. But Soliai is not a natural pass-rusher. The Soliai-Starks dilemma will present a tough decision for Miami first-year general manager Dennis Hickey.

No. 9: Charles Clay

Position: Tight end

2013 stats: 69 receptions, 759 yards, six touchdowns

Analysis: Clay was one of Miami’s biggest success stories of 2013. He began training camp as a backup to Dustin Keller. But a season-ending knee injury to Keller opened the door for Clay, and he took advantage. Clay was third on the team in receptions and became a dependable option for Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Clay is entering the final year of his rookie contract and on his way to proving he should be part of Miami’s long-term plans.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 13-16

February, 13, 2014
Feb 13
1:30
PM ET
We continue our ranking of the top 40 players.

Here are Nos. 13-16:

No. 16: Richie Incognito

Position: Guard

2013 stats: Eight starts

Analysis: Incognito was Miami’s most controversial player in 2013. He was in the middle of the bullying and harassment allegations from teammate Jonathan Martin, which became a national story. Incognito was later suspended, with pay, for half the season. But Incognito is a rugged player who is one year removed from the Pro Bowl. He will not play again in Miami but could get another shot elsewhere as long as a team can overlook last year’s scandal.

No. 15: Dion Jordan

Position: Defensive end

2013 stats: 26 tackles, 2.0 sacks

Analysis: Jordan, the No. 3 overall pick in 2013, has a world of talent. The problem is the Dolphins’ coaching staff didn’t know how to use it during his rookie year. Jordan was a part-time rotation player at defensive end. He didn’t get much playing time behind Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake and team sack leader Olivier Vernon. Jordan showed flashes, but much more is expected in 2014.

No. 14: Jared Odrick

Position: Defensive tackle

2013 stats: 43 tackles, 4.5 sacks

Analysis: Versatility is Odrick’s biggest strength. He moved from defensive end to defensive tackle full-time in 2013. Odrick was a rotational player but still produced. He is entering the final year of his rookie contract and would like to have long-term security.

No. 13: John Denny

Position: Long snapper

2013 stats: 16 games

Analysis: How can a long snapper be ranked this high? The answer is simple: Denny is one of the few Dolphins who can say he consistently did his job every week. Long snapping has not been an issue for the Dolphins in quite some time. That’s why Denny is the longest-tenured player in Miami.

Walker’s Fab 40: Nos. 21-24

February, 7, 2014
Feb 7
9:00
AM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top 40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 21-24.

No. 24: Dustin Keller

Position: Tight end

2013 stats: No stats

Analysis: The Dolphins had high hopes for Keller, who signed a one-year contract last season. Keller was having a solid training camp and preseason before suffering a terrible knee injury in a preseason game against the Houston Texans. Keller is rehabbing multiple knee ligaments and needs to prove he’s 100 percent again before another team signs him. A return to Miami appears unlikely. Charles Clay stepped in for Keller and had a terrific year with 69 receptions.

No. 23: Chris Clemons

Position: Safety

2013 stats: 92 tackles, one interception

Analysis: Clemons had another productive year in Miami. He was fourth on the team in tackles and showed toughness by working through multiple injuries in the second half of the season. Clemons’ coverage is inconsistent at times, but he’s a sure tackler. Clemons is an unrestricted free agent. The Dolphins must decide if they want to spend to bring Clemons back or if they can get an upgrade elsewhere.

No. 22: Koa Misi

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 54 tackles, two sacks

Analysis: Misi was part of an underachieving linebacker corp. But Misi was active and had six tackles for losses. The Dolphins would like to see more big plays from Misi in terms of sacks and interceptions. He received a contract extension from former general manager Jeff Ireland during the season.

No. 21: Brandon Gibson

Position: Wide receiver

2013 stats: 30 receptions, 326 yards, three touchdowns

Analysis: Gibson was catching his stride in the slot before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Getting back to 100 percent will be key for Gibson in an already deep receiving corp. Gibson is slick route-runner who is good at finding openings. He’s also a smart player with good hands.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 25-28

February, 4, 2014
Feb 4
3:20
PM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top-40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 25-28.

No. 28: Rishard Matthews

Position: Wide receiver

2013 stats: 41 receptions, 448 yards, two TDs

Analysis: I always liked Matthews since his rookie year in 2012. Even as a seventh-rounder, Matthews competed hard and had the moxie of a higher pick. But opportunities have been few and far between for Matthews. He finally got a shot following a season-ending knee injury to slot receiver Brandon Gibson. Matthews took advantage with a career-high 41 catches. Matthews waited his turn and earned playing time the hard way. It will be interesting to see where Matthews fits into a deep receiving group in 2014.

No. 27: Jonathan Martin

Position: Offensive tackle

2013 stats: Seven starts

Analysis: Martin’s name is associated with a bullying scandal. But in addition to the off-the-field issues, Martin was also struggling on the field. Martin didn’t hold his own at left tackle and was switched to the right side following the Bryant McKinnie trade. Then he left the Dolphins, probably for the last time. Miami will try to trade Martin, but it won’t be a busy market. A release appears more likely.

No. 26: Tyson Clabo

Position: Offensive tackle

2013 stats: 15 starts

Analysis: Clabo, 32, had an up and down 2013 season. He played his worst football to start the year and was eventually benched last October. But the bullying scandal involving Martin and teammate Richie Incognito opened up another opportunity for Clabo to return to the starting lineup. Clabo played better football and showed why he’s a veteran. But the unrestricted free agent may not return as Miami is expected to do a major makeover on the offensive line.

No. 25: Lamar Miller

Position: Running back

2013 stats: 709 rushing yards, two TDs

Analysis: Many questions still remain about Miller after his first year as a starter. He wasn’t consistent and had just one 100-yard rushing game. Miami’s coaches didn’t feel he could handle the load. Miller only received 20 carries or more in a game once. The Dolphins could be in the market for a bell cow, which would put Miller back on the bench. He was at his best as a change-of-pace back during his rookie year.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 29-32

February, 3, 2014
Feb 3
4:00
PM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top 40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 29-32.

No. 32: Caleb Sturgis

Position: Kicker

2013 stats: 26-of-34 FGs, 33-of-33 extra points

Analysis: Sturgis was Miami’s most productive rookie in 2013. That is both a compliment to Sturgis and an indictment of the Dolphins’ rookie class. The fifth-round pick led Miami in scoring with 111 points. He started hot by making his first 10 field goals, then tailed off. But Sturgis’ strong leg was evident. He just needs to work on his accuracy in 2014.

No. 31: John Jerry

Position: Guard

2013 stats: 16 starts

Analysis: Jerry was inconsistent -- like many Miami offensive linemen -- but sometimes your best ability is availability. Jerry was the only Dolphins offensive lineman to start all 16 games last season. Miami had an unpredictable year on the offensive line that included injuries, a bullying scandal and a trade to acquire left tackle Bryant McKinnie. Jerry didn’t have a strong 2013 but at least proved his durability. He will be an unrestricted free agent and may not return to Miami.

No. 30: Jimmy Wilson

Position: Defensive back

2013 stats: 39 tackles, two INTs

Analysis: Wilson is another versatile player for Miami who played multiple positions. Wilson spent time as a slot corner and part-time safety for Miami last season. He’s scrappy and plays hard. But his lack of a position would make it hard to be a full-time starter.

No. 29: Matt Moore

Position: Quarterback

2013 stats: 2-of-6, 53 yards, two INTs

Analysis: Backing up quarterback Ryan Tannehill can be a tough job in Miami. But Moore continues to play his role and is a veteran insurance policy. Tannehill started all 16 games in 2013, but he was injured briefly in a 19-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Moore came in and failed to provide a spark, throwing two picks in Miami’s ugliest loss of the season. However, Moore remains a quality backup and is well respected by the Dolphins for accepting his role.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 33-36

January, 30, 2014
Jan 30
1:30
PM ET
ESPN.com’s Miami Dolphins page continues to rank the top-40 players on the team.

Next up, we take a look at Nos. 33-36.

No. 36: Nate Garner

Position: Guard

2013 stats: Six starts

Analysis: Garner is Miami’s most versatile offensive lineman. He’s the only player on the team that can play all five positions on the offensive line, which is his biggest strength. That is the kind of versatility head coach Joe Philbin and his staff covets. However, Garner is not great at any particular one position. That prevents him from starting long-term.

No. 35: Derrick Shelby

Position: Defensive end

2013 stats: 34 tackles, 2.5 sacks

Analysis: Shelby took advantage of a strong training camp to earn a spot in Miami’s defensive-line rotation. But his regular season was mostly mediocre. Shelby is a decent technical player but doesn’t have a very high ceiling. Still, Miami’s coaching staff trusted Shelby more in 2013 than rookie No. 3 overall pick Dion Jordan, which was evident by Shelby’s higher snap count.

No. 34: Daniel Thomas

Position: Running back

2013 stats: 109 carries, 406 rushing yards, four touchdowns

Analysis: Thomas, a former second-round pick, averaged just 3.7 yards per carry and has been mostly a draft bust. He had plenty of opportunities behind starter Lamar Miller. Neither proved they couldn’t handle the load. Thomas had one big game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in inclement weather, but the rest of his season was underwhelming.

No. 33: Nolan Carroll

Position: Cornerback

2013 stats: 47 tackles, three interceptions, two sacks

Analysis: With Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes on the other side, Carroll was picked on often last season. Sometimes Carroll held his own, and other times he allowed big plays. But Carroll did show some improvement in 2013, accumulating a career-high three interceptions and two sacks. He’s just not full-time starter material.

Walker's Fab 40: Nos. 37-40

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
12:20
PM ET
The 2014 edition of “Walker's Fab 40” has a new twist. After several years of covering the division, this time we will rank the top 40 Miami Dolphins.

Keep in mind, these rankings are where the Dolphins currently stand after the season. It's not based on projection or potential.

There will surely be plenty of debate from Dolphins fans. So let's get right to it.

No. 40: Will Davis

Position: Cornerback

2013 stats: 8 tackles

Analysis: Davis started training camp on fire. He was one of the stars of camp and unofficially led the Dolphins in interceptions over the summer. But a toe injury set Davis behind and he never recovered. It wasn't until late in the year that Davis earned a little playing time. But 2013 was mostly a redshirt season. Davis, a rookie third-round pick, will get a chance to earn a spot in the rotation in 2014.

No. 39: Don Jones

Position: Defensive back

2013 stats: 10 tackles, two forced fumbles

Analysis: Jones was quietly an impressive story for the Dolphins. He was Miami's final 2013 draft pick in the seventh round and made the team as a special team's ace. Jones was a gunner who is tough to block. He forced two fumbles on special teams for his big hits. Jones is raw as a defensive back, but his ability on special teams proved to be valuable.

No. 38: Jelani Jenkins

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 17 tackles

Analysis: Jenkins, a rookie fourth-round pick gained more playing time towards the end of the season. He is still a raw prospect but showed some aggressiveness and sideline-to-sideline speed. The Dolphins are committed to starting linebackers Philip Wheeler, Dannell Ellerbe and Koa Misi long term. So it may be hard for Jenkins to secure playing time unless there is an injury.

No. 37. Jason Trusnik

Position: Linebacker

2013 stats: 25 tackles

Analysis: Every team needs a versatile veteran like Trusnik. He was a backup who can play all three linebacker positions. Trusnik also was a key member on special teams. His versatility has kept him in the NFL for seven years.

ESPN.com Dolphins page will continue “Walker's Fab 40” on Wednesday.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider